Why to Start Your Own Secret Society with Michael F Schein #056

Show Notes:

Michael F. Schein is the Head Hype Man at MicroFame Media, a company that specializes in making consultants and coaches famous in their fields. (Often through bold, creative and playful methods). Some of his clients have included eBay, Magento, The Medici Group, University of Pennsylvania, LinkedIn, and Citrix. His writing has appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Inc., Psychology Today, and Huffington Post, and he is a speaker for international audiences spanning from the northeastern United States to the southeastern coast of China.

His book The Hype Handbook: 12 Indispensable Success Secrets From the World’s Greatest Propagandists, Self-Promoters, Cult Leaders, Mischief Makers, and Boundary Breakers, published by McGraw Hill, appears where books are sold. Mike was on the show before and is back again, this time to among other things, to talk about his experiments in forming a secret society…

Topics explored:

  • Marketing insights from rock and hip hop managers, dada artists and cult leaders
  • Why we’re so fascinated with the freemasons, illuminati and skull and bones:
  • The secrecy is very much the point
  • “The greatest hype artists make it seem like their success is all grassroots but there’s always people pulling strings beneath the surface”
  • The ancient greeks and roman had these festivals where they could let themselves go: slaves into masters and vice versa
  • A healthy expression of your ‘other side’ in a spirit of camaraderie is highly appealing to people
  • Friends not just networking: You can’t fake the shared interest
  • Be the person people want to genuinely hear from
  • Ethical emissaries for your business
  • People forget the ‘fun’ in business, real not fake fun
  • It has to speak to something people are going through at the time
  • The real Don Draper, Eddie Bernays
  • Don’t let the facts speak for themselves, you’ll probably lose



Al McBride 0:03
Welcome to the dealing with Goliath podcast. The mission of dealing with lawyers is to sharpen the psychological edge in negotiation and high impact conversations for business leaders with skin in the game, who want to be more effective under pressure, uncover hidden value, and increased profitability with expert guests across the business spectrum, which are trying to deliver gems of wisdom, delving into their methods thinking approach to business life and to problem solving. This is a slightly different type of episode today, were very happy to say we have former guest, Mr. Michael F shine back on the show, Michael was on the show at the end of 2021 and had some very interesting stuff. For those of you who remember the episode, Michael of shine is the head hype man at microphone media company that specializes in making consultants and coaches famous in their fields.

And some of his clients included eBay, Magento, University of Pennsylvania, LinkedIn, Citrix and many, many more. His writing has also appeared in Fortune, Forbes, Inc, Psychology Today and Huffington Post. And he’s a speaker for international audiences spanning from Northeastern United States to the south eastern coast of China. But here’s the thing, folks, it’s his hype handbook to 12 indispensable success secrets from the world’s greatest propaganda self promoters, cult leaders, Mischief Makers and boundary breakers, that that’s what we’re going to be talking about today. Now I’ve read it. And I was rereading a few of the chapters to take to refresh my knowledge. And it is absolutely worth your time. And your focus. It’s pulls together so many different strands is truly entertaining and insightful stuff. So let me just set the scene for you, Mike. First of all, it’s great to have you back on the show. But

Michael F Schein 1:58
it’s a pleasure. Yeah, I really I enjoyed the first one so much. I’m so pleased.

Al McBride 2:03
very flattered. You say so. Let me just tell you, Mike emailed me there recently. And he said, hey, oh, and he said, I’ve been trying at number two principle, which was started a secret society. And I’ve had some really interesting results. Would you like to have me on and maybe have an interview and have a chat about? How could I resist with such brilliant, what a brilliant hook. What a brilliant idea. So you had me intrigued? You’re successful right out of the gate. So the principle is forming your own secret society. I let you take it from there, Mike.

Michael F Schein 2:42
Well, yeah, I mean, I guess I don’t know how many people who are listening to this episode listened to the first episode. So it may make sense to add a little bit of context. I mean, you mentioned the book that I wrote that, you know, McGraw Hill put out about two years ago now called the hype handbook. And basically, what that was all about was, you know, I ran what I guess a lot of people and Ron what I guess a lot of people would call a marketing company. But I never in 100 years would have thought of myself as a marketer. I mean, I played in bands, and, you know, wrote fiction and did all kinds of stuff.

And when I went on my own and left a corporate job and became a freelance copywriter, I was doing horribly at it, I was trying to sell and market in the standard way that I had kind of brainwashed my way into in the corporate world, you know, pushing the right buttons on HubSpot, or whatever people call marketing. And I was failing. I mean, I was burning through my savings. So long story short, in an era of desperation, I thought to my real interests, I thought back to my real interest.

For those of you seeing the video, I’m wearing this weird band t shirt Generation X, it’s a band, not the generation, you know. But um, I was really into the punk movement and into all of these groups that really generated a huge amount of emotion and attention to get to a certain goal. And I said, Well, what if I looked at those kinds of people, these people who don’t consider themselves marketers, but you know, rock managers and hip hop managers in the early days, and even cult leaders and propaganda artists and the Dada movement and all of these people, and I started to do that. And always, ethically, that was a big thing for me, because I wanted to figure out if I could apply these things without hurting people. And it worked. And I started I called it hype instead of marketing that fits in my mind very different and built a business around it and then wrote a book around it.

So all of that preamble to say and I don’t know if you want to chime in at this point, but that strategy number two was called Create a secret society and I use that term in a very tongue in cheek way. It was sort of this nuclear networking principle that I had, but in the two years since fish sitting around for a new book topic fishing around for a new interest. I started to think well, what about real secret societies? I mean, I chose that that term for a reason. But what about these groups like the Freemasons and the Illuminati and Skull and Bones? Why are we so fascinated with them? Why do people continue to join them? And that led me down a rabbit hole that I’m actually I started testing in my own career. So we can talk about what that looks like.

Al McBride 5:31
Absolutely. Well, it’s it’s a fascinating topic, as somebody who was a Freemason once said to me, said, it wasn’t he said, It’s not secret. It’s private. There’s a difference? I don’t I don’t know if that kicks into being relevant to what you’re talking about. But there is something about that exclusivity and what’s going on, and they’re kind of the Tom Waits. What’s he building in there? What’s going on behind the closed doors? So talk us through what what was the idea there behind it? And what were you playing with? What was the was an experiment from the start or just kind of grow into that?

Michael F Schein 6:11
I started, as I always do, I always just kind of research things that are interesting to me. And when I find some kind of nuggets that I think I might be able to apply first to my own career, and then to my clients, right? Who, you know, because we’re in charge of helping our clients generate a lot of emotion and attention around their products so that they can typically sell them. I start to do experiments, and I try to look for that intersection of where are the things that interest me actually pan out in the real world. So what interested me about the real secret societies is exactly what you’re saying. Your friend gave you that tidbit about that? It’s private, not secret. From what I understand. That’s just something they say to people the secrecy is very much the point.

Al McBride 7:02

Michael F Schein 7:04
every once in a while they build a new Mormon temple, right? Not a church, but a temple, and a Mormon temple, you have to be Mormon, to go to the inner sanctum to go into a Mormon temple, I think, and certainly into the inner sanctum of a Mormon temple. But while they’re building it, and before they consecrate it, anyone can go into the Mormon temple. So people will travel in the US anyway, from five states away, to go into this Mormon temple before they’re not allowed to go into the Mormon temple. Nothing physical changes after they consecrate it, or at least I don’t think so. Right. I mean, there might be a spiritual resonance, that isn’t my faith, but that is someone else’s. But just the fact that the Mormon temple is going to be secret is going to be a place that you can’t go, people will travel from all over, I want to do it, I’ve never had the chance to do it.

So I did a little bit of research on on the Freemasons. And everyone thinks that no one knows what goes on inside except Freemasons. It’s been revealed a ton of times. I mean, the Inquisition, you know, went in, and they, they tortured it out of people and people weren’t strong enough to resist and it’s all documented, right? And people have defected. And it turns out that the point of the secrecy is the secrecy. So you go in there, and you do secret handshakes, and you wear special outfits, and the floor is always a checkerboard. And they have this thing where they tear your sash and they blindfold you. And they say that, you know, on pain of having your tongue ripped out and your chest slashed open, you can’t reveal the secrets, all of this, you know, language. And ultimately, at the bottom of it, there’s this like credo about do goodwill toward man. Period.

It’s a drinking club pretty well, and a charity club, you know. But what makes it so fascinating is that it has all of this secrecy. So the idea is that we think the secrecy is guarding something really special. But the secrecy itself is what’s appealing. So as a result over time, and this ebbs and flows, it’s at a low point right now, Freemasonry and popularity, but at its height, everyone wanted to be involved, and you had to pay a fee. So it was, if you think going to a mastermind group is a good networking opportunity, maybe but it’s a chore, no one really likes doing it. They do it to make money. People would spend all of their time in this thing, the founding fathers, the you know, all of these extremely prominent people and business would get done.

People would do anything for each other because they’re bound by this secret society. So I started saying to myself, What if instead of creating another dinner series, or and all of these things have been valuable in my career, but networking dinners, or a mastermind or a networking group? What have I embraced some of the pageantry of The real secret society sort of that you know how there used to be in the Victorian era, gentlemen’s clubs that a lot of people were part of. And that would be very old fashioned. Now, I feel like the Soho House was an update of the Victorian gentlemen’s club, it doesn’t look like a gentlemen’s club that would be musty.

There was not a bore head on the wall or whatever else. But it’s the same concept that elite, it’s the upper echelons of society, but it’s got all them. It’s got techno music playing in the background, you know what I mean? So, I had a, I have a email list, I do this thing called the hype book club that’s that people tend to like, and there’s all kinds of people on it, there’s 1000s of people, so people like you and me, whatever, just everyone. But I noticed over the years, once in a great while, I would see a name that I very much recognized on the list, you know, so I said to my, who would follow my stuff.

So I said to myself, What if I reached out to those people, and I said, you know, you’ve been invited to the ludic circle, that’s what we’re calling and put a little Latin in there, it makes it you know, kind of exciting, the lytic circle, and we have special events and special rituals and special meetings that only they know about, and access to special things that only they know about. And so I did it as an experiment, I used all the pageantry, I did all of that, I’m being very serious about it, I’m not telling anyone who’s not in it, who’s in it, what goes on there.

But as a result, people have joined. And it’s really been useful. I mean, people have been helping each other and me, you know, we and it happened very, very quickly. So now we’ve started to work with our clients to help them when it’s when it’s relevant to create their own secret societies to drive their own business results. Because the thing I found is that people always make it seem the best type artists make it seem like their success is totally grassroots, but they always have people pulling strings underneath the surface,

Al McBride 12:02
right? It’s fascinating stuff. Tell us what were some of the maybe assumptions, or expectations you had, when you were starting this experiment, that turned out to be wildly off or needed a huge amount of updating?

Michael F Schein 12:24
You know, I don’t know that there, there were, I mean, I always start things small, you know, so like, I never, ever, like the thing that I wouldn’t do, which some people do, and I just don’t have the guts is to be so confident in an idea that I wouldn’t, you know, rent a hall, get the sign this special symbols up on the wall, you know, print out the stuff and send it to everybody. And then no one is interested. So I started with a few emails, you know, kind of like, hey, if we did this thing, would you think it would be cool?

Here are some other people who are involved, here’s the kind of stuff it would do. And it was the opposite. I try a lot of things that don’t work that, you know, again, these hype strategies that I rely on, they’re just math, psychology principles that work on average, but the actual specific things you do within them can fail as easily as they can see, see it, it gives you a better chance. But you know, the specifics are, it depends on a lot of things. So I didn’t know what would work. What I was surprised about was how much people liked it. You know, I mean, how interested people were in becoming part of it. So

Al McBride 13:36
it was that because you did particularly well, or do you feel there was, you know, a gap in the market that people were hungry for or a bit of both?

Michael F Schein 13:44
I think it was a combination of the tactical stuff that everybody wants, the networking opportunities, blah, blah, blah, but they get that stuff all day long. I think it was the sense of fun and pageantry and, you know, theatricality so like, I mean, if you if your listeners are thinking of doing something like this, you know, what a lot of people do is they know they have to network, they’re good at it. So they go out, they meet people, especially before the pandemic, people that a lot of cocktail events and conferences now, who knows how people are, are networking, but it’s going back to the old way. You know, and they meet and they do favors and introductions and once in a while they’ll do a lunch or dinner and invite a bunch of people.

All that stuff’s great. I mean, I’ve used a lot of it. It’s very effective, but it’s work. Right? I mean, it’s it’s something that you have to do to generate leads as they say. I think what made it’s maybe my background, you know, like I said, our band was very theatrical. We were into David Bowie and like Devo and stuff like that. I wrote fiction. I mean, I have a sense of the kind of grandiose and I just figured, like, let’s do a modern secret society, let’s be a little goofy, the Shriners or, or the, the sacred order of the buffalo or but but a modern version of that right. And I think people found it charming and interesting and intriguing. The way they might find going into a Mormon temple before it’s consecrated, intriguing, but I don’t think I am alone in being able to do that. I think it’s a change in orientation. I think, in business, we’re often really afraid to be playful. You know, we, you know, this is serious business. I mean, it’s, you know, I’m not going to create some goofy, you know, club, I mean, this is for lead generation and networking. And it’s going to be called the sheet metal producers networking Association. America, you know,

Al McBride 15:58
this is something we talked about the last time it was a big event of the ireverence, but a playful creativity. Yeah, you know, with a lot with a lot of your work. And I would imagine that that would go down very well with, you know, the tone has to be right. Like, I know, as you said, you did it as if as if it is, and it was quite serious. But there must have been a playful element in there as well.

Michael F Schein 16:24
I mean, think about this, right. So even the Freemasons, I mean, these are grown men, and they were men, who were captains of industry, all of this thing, and they would get in a room once a week or once a month. And wear medieval masonry outfits and aprons. Even though none of these people were actually masons and blindfold themselves and threatened to tear their tongues out and slashed their throats. I mean, like these absurd things, these were bankers and lawyers, and you know, whatever, barristers, whatever. And then if you get even crazier with it, the Shriners that was an offshoot from Do you know, the Shriners? They have hospitals I don’t know about in Europe, but all across America to this day, and they’ve done a lot of good in the world.

But what they’re famous for is, it’s probably a little racist, actually. Now, I mean, in the modern mores of the time, but they weren’t were fezzes. They were the mystical Shriners of the Orient, or something like that didn’t they’re usually like old white men. And they were these like little things and drive these little cars around, right. And it’s this this wacky thing, or like, even remember the Flintstones, they used to have like the buffalo thing that wasn’t too far off. I mean, you know, right after World War Two before the hippies kind of changed everything in the counterculture. A massive percentage of the male population was a member of one of these groups, the Elks elves, but they weren’t l cats like these. And this was the gray flannel suit era. And every weekend, these men would get together and wear fuzzy animal hats.

Al McBride 18:10
Again, it’s just an excuse to hang out with your friends and drink some beers or, or whatever it was there too. And

Michael F Schein 18:16
it is, but but think about it. Like they’re drinking with that in you’re like, in other words, anyway, you can just go drink, like whatever, but it makes you part of a thing, right? It’s like, you’re part of a tribe. Now. It’s the same reason that people go to. I’m thinking of American football, but I’m sure it’s the same for football, go to games grown men who are middle managers of account receivables, and they paint themselves blue and red and rip their shirts off and scream like idiots, you know, for their team, not one member of which they’ve ever met in real life. Of course, that tribal thing, but the theatricality some people want the irreverence. Even if they don’t, they want an outlet, and the more straight laced they are, the more of an outlet they need.

Al McBride 19:04
Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s a very good, very, very true observation there. Yeah. So couldn’t you go to jail? If you’ve been to Tokyo? I’m not sure I think we talked about this.

Michael F Schein 19:16
I’ve been to Osaka, weirdly, I have not met him. I want to very much you

Al McBride 19:21
know, yeah, Japan is very much everyone wants to do things, certain ways. And then on a Sunday in the parks, you have all of these cosplay and people and they really go for it. They’re in all sorts of thing. You have sort of the Elvis impersonator gang and then you have these people dressed as robots and then all these manga characters that I’ve never even seen, but you can tell their manga card. Yeah, and everything in between. They’re just letting off steam because as you said, it’s a sort of a an acceptable out. outlay for, as you said, for that need to express need to To create to be playful, and you can do in the safety of your tribe. Yeah.

Michael F Schein 20:05
To be nerdy for a second, I think that’s such a great point. I mean, the ancient Greeks understood this, just like they understood everything so well, right. Like they were really into logic and rationality. That was what their the Athenians anyway, that was what their culture was about. But they had this god Dionysus or Bacchus. Right, who is the god of wine. And basically, every year, there was this ceremony where everyone would go into a drunken Balkan alley, Bacchanalia. I mean, they No, that’s what they would call it so that, you know, slaves would get to be the Lord’s and the Lord’s would have to serve the slaves and people would do sexual things. And that’s not what I’m, you know, what I’m saying, but people would just do the opposite of everything that they always did.

And there are remnants of this if you go to Brazil or Spain, they have the like, Carnival, San Fermin Festival, it’s the same thing you’re about to embark on when Mardi Gras, right, like, so. Unfortunately. I mean, I think we’ve we’ve kind of our m&s gets really heavy, but I think our society has gone out of balance, we’re either just kind of thoughtlessly, the botching ourselves, you know, or we’re working 12 hours a week, there’s no sort of reason behind it.

There’s no structure behind it. And I think having structures and organizations, I’m not talking about a buck and Alia, please don’t take that away from what I’m saying here. That is not what I’m encouraging at all. But what I’m saying is having a structure that allows for that healthy expression of your other side, and doing it in a spirit of true camaraderie. Yeah, it’s almost like the stuff you get out of it is gravy, like people will pretend it’s for the networking. But it’s really for the other stuff.

Al McBride 22:08
Right? And then networking is a nice side effect. Is it because you’re all in it together? So this time? Bombs?

Michael F Schein 22:15
Yeah, it’s kind of like have you ever met? I don’t? I’m not I wasn’t in one. But you know, there are these fraternities in American schools, right. And you’ll meet like a 65 year old person who’s a CEO or whatever. And because someone that they’ve never met before, is a Delta Upsilon.

Al McBride 22:40
With the Greek letters, yeah,

Michael F Schein 22:41
yeah, they’ll they’ll do a favor, they’ll hook that person up, you know, and it’s just like, and they do all that tribal stuff. You know, they haze you when you come in? I mean, they are and there are problems with that. But it’s the same. The Greek letters, you know, the whole thing. And it’s a weird, weirdly strange bond. It’s like beyond networking, you know, it goes beyond because you’re part of the same arbitrary team, for whatever reason.

Al McBride 23:11
So did you have any form of initiation? Or hey,

Michael F Schein 23:14
I wasn’t, I wasn’t in a fraternity?

Al McBride 23:17
You had your new No, no, no, no, no, no, no, I

Michael F Schein 23:20
don’t want to get sued or arrested. No, but no,

Al McBride 23:23
no, even virtual hoops for people to jump through now, just

Michael F Schein 23:26
now, but we shouldn’t do that. That’s a good point. You know, actually, I’m just developing, you know, the, you know, the thing will evolve as it goes, That’s a good point. You need to do that.

Al McBride 23:34
Yeah. Yeah, a bit of a game gateway challenges.

Michael F Schein 23:40
I liked that idea.

Al McBride 23:43
So, you touched on quite a few points in that chapter about, you know, piggybacking on those who have what you want, and forming these groups. But also, one of the things which is quite refreshing about that chapter in your book isn’t about this kind of relentless hustle. Which, you know, if people are reading it for the first time, they might be thinking that’s where you’re going or thinking it’s quite Machiavellian. Whereas it’s actually the opposite. Like you mentioned Andy Warhol with the idea that people you know, thought he was, you know, full of self promotion, which he was but he was actually forming relationships as well. Which are often overlooked

Michael F Schein 24:28
that’s what people miss, you know, that, you know, it’s um, I don’t know if you’ve seen this and and, you know, this is not to bash anybody because I’ve been guilty of this as well so that we can improve but have you ever met the person who is just like a networking hustling machine and it’s almost like on autopilot. So like, someone introduces you in this sort of forum, introduction, email, you know, you don’t even know why you’re really meeting them. It’s because it’s networking. And so they You talk to this random person. And it’s almost a chore because the person hasn’t really thought about why you should meet them, right?

So you get on the line, and especially some people will jam 19 of those at you. And they you know, and so you got on the line, and then the person says something like, How can I help you? What can I do? How can I serve you? Right? And it’s like, you don’t know me. So you want to serve me? That’s a very nice word. But why do I deserve you’re serving we met five minutes ago, you know what it means to be betrayed. You’re trying to do a bit, you’re doing business development. And I understand that, and that’s fine, but there’s no bond there.

Whereas if you put yourself in an environment, where to look, we all have our regular friends and our regular friends can help us. But sometimes our regular friends are not in the same industry, sometimes our regular friends are not successful in the conventional sense. And we should just be their friends, right? But there is a there is a professional element to this, you know. So you, what you want to do is put yourself in environments, where you’re with people who have complementary or common interests to you and who have some success, whatever that means, whether it’s that business success, artistic success, whatever it is. And then what you want to do, once you’ve put those things in place, is you want to create an environment where those people just become your friends.

And the goal isn’t to create some weird, artificial structured thing. It’s to form deep relationships with these people so that when the time comes, you’ll have their back and they’ll have yours not transactionally. But because your friends and you see that a lot in the arts like in scenes, you know what I mean? Like you’ll see it like Andy Warhol, and in a lot of music scenes, you know, people will well you know, Chrissy Hind was friends with Lemmy, and Lemmy was friends with the producer of this and they hung out in the bars together. So when she had to do her first demo is you just gave her a call. There was no why wouldn’t she give him a call? They had beers together every day. And that’s the mindset you really have to be in. Think of it as a scene. It’s a secret society, but what you’re doing is you’re creating a scene.

Al McBride 27:20
This is something that a friend of mine put me on to the pistols Danny Boyle’s Sex Pistols.

Michael F Schein 27:25
I watched it Yeah, Disney.

Al McBride 27:26
Yeah, really enjoy a lovely tone to it. very witty, very warm, brilliant stuff. But one of the things that’s fascinating is as he’s as you point out in the in your in your book that Chrissy Hein was like, okay, she was new to London, how do you break into a whole new scene? And she goes, Well, it’s based on passions. It was based on interests. And that’s where she went Malcolm McLaren, Vivienne Westwood’s fashion shop, right? And that’s where all these people were hanging out. So it was for hubs for those hubs to connection. Exactly, exactly. You

Michael F Schein 28:01
can’t fake the interest. You know what I mean? Like, no, I mean, if,

Al McBride 28:06
but that’s, like, that’s the good thing for people to get their head around is to just connect and things you’re actually interested in. You don’t have to fake it. Yeah.

Michael F Schein 28:16
Yeah. And people aren’t that stupid. You know what I mean? Like, like, there’s this weird concept in this networking world, that if you do favors and introductions, the universe will return it. So they say to you Don’t be transactional, and expect things in returns just do favors and the universe. That’s nonsense on many levels, with all due respect, because first of all, what universe like what, what is this the magnetic poles of I mean, that’s like very mystical talk, right? So what I think of it as is you become the person that people are always happy to hear from.

Al McBride 28:55
So if we were to kind of summarize a bit more about that, explain it with the difference, maybe, yeah, because I

Michael F Schein 29:01
think when people think of, if we put stuff out into the universe, we’re just gonna get it back. It’s just another way of being transactional. What you’re basically saying is, I’m trusting in this mystical force, but ultimately, at the end of the day, what I want it to lead. And if it doesn’t come from you, but I don’t get it from someone else, then this was a failure. And I hear it all the time. I’ll hear all these people’s I’ve been doing all these introductions and favours and I haven’t gotten anything out of it. And I’m giving too much and I’m like, well if you’re in a group of like minded people, who are have some success, or who are coming up, you know, I mean, I’ve met young people who I’ve helped partially because they were interested in partially because I saw something in them and that’s worked out well for me.

And you’re the person who is always keeping your ears and eyes open for ways to help Not in this transactional way, but in the way of like, hey, wow, you know, John is really fascinated in the AI space. And every time we meet, he talks about that and talks about how one day he wants to get involved in it. And I happen to be at this conference where they had this AI exhibit, and I walked up to the lady who had designed the whole program, and we got into a great talk. And I said to her, you know, I have this friend, John, who’s one of the smartest guys I know.

And he’s just, I can just feel he’s going to make a splash in AI, because he does everything you should talk to him, because I just think you’d benefit. He also has access to a lot of capital for some of your projects. And he’s into AI. That wasn’t a random connection. That was you hooking two people up in a very serious way based around thoughtfulness and something you’re interested in, right? And you can tell me what you see. But that’s not what people do. Because now for both of those people, you’re someone that anytime you call them, they’re going to be like, Oh, Mike, oh, my gosh, oh, wow. I’m so happy to hear from you. It’s almost like a pleasure for them to do you a favor?

Al McBride 31:12
Absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s because it was it’s the overuse word of authenticity, but that the action was authentic. I use like, it’s genuine thing. And I think, as you said, when you’re on the receiving end, it’s feels one feels very different to the other, because I’ve had some introductions, where you’re thinking, why do you have a quota that you’re just ticking a box here? Because you don’t? You don’t see you all? You don’t have a connection? That’s obvious. And then you don’t really, it’s obvious, like, what are we meant to talk about here? Whereas when the introduction is, when it’s made clear, why the individual thinks you could have a good connection with this, this other individual is like, ah, yeah, that’s fantastic. You know, you feel really appreciated, as you said, for

Michael F Schein 32:05
sure, yeah. And then if you take that up a level and you become kind of a clique, or a secret society, as I call it, that works even better, like I think about these guys like and they are guys, but Ryan Holiday, Tim Ferriss, James Altucher, these, Austin Cleon, they’re all kind of tangentially related. I mean, they all are good promoters, they all have books, but different kinds of books, different kinds of businesses. But these people are friends, like they know each other really, really, really well, you know, and they obviously help each other all the time, because if one of them ever has a book, he’s on every one of those podcasts, you know, and it’s just, this is not like someone checking a quota for the universe to give you back things.

It’s that that’s what I mean by a secret society. So like, when at the very core, when people talk about, oh, you know, these evil rich people at Davos, who create these things, and this and that, it’s not as conspiratorial as all that. It’s a bunch of successful rich people who have things in common who have become friends. And so they, they scratch each other’s back. Like Warren Buffett gave his money to Bill Gates to give away because they’re friends. And they have a lot in common. And that’s what you want to find. And the thing is, you’re probably saying to yourself, not you, but anyone listening, well, how do I do that? I’m not Warren Buffett.

The trick is to think about what do you have to offer, it’s cheap for you to give up and valuable to other people. And you always have something. So and it’s usually the thing you don’t think is a big deal. So I made this multimillionaire who became a huge mentor to me, very, very, very happy. In the early days of my career, I met him because I interviewed him because at the time I was in my early 30s, I was still going to see live music. And this guy moved from Indianapolis to New York. And the one thing he was like, I moved here because I love live music. And I don’t get that in Indianapolis. i This guy had could have flown me out in a private jet. I couldn’t do anything for him. I was kept broke at the time. But I said, Look, I’ll show you around all the clubs, you know? Absolutely. And to me, that was nothing. It was a bit but it was cold to him because it’s something he didn’t have helped someone’s kids. There’ll be yours for life.

Al McBride 34:27
Yeah, I’ve heard quite a few stories actually, were a man of high end deals were done because one guy said, Oh, what’s the problem or so here’s the guy who just off shoots sort of says, oh, yeah, my kids struggling with this. You know, he’s a chemistry exam. I said, Yeah, I’ll have a chat with him for half an hour sort of on Zoom, or whatever. And here’s what we used to test. Thank you so much. It’s like Oh, yeah.

Michael F Schein 34:49
Oh, love their kids. Yeah. Yeah. It

Al McBride 34:53
because it’s also the thing where when people have everything, as you said, it’s the thing It is harder to buy. That’s it. Don’t ever think you can buy it, don’t think to buy something. And the great examples like just just a friendly tour of great, you know, gig locations, bars and

Michael F Schein 35:15
venues, it’s getting in that mindset of not discounting the stuff you have to offer. You know, a lot of times when it’s the note, like helping someone in a chemistry test, if you were a chemistry major, that’s a post exam. Sorry,

Al McBride 35:26
I didn’t point that out. That’s exactly the point. He was a degree in chemistry.

Michael F Schein 35:30
I didn’t even know that. But I’m sorry. But are you into that he was probably he might have just he could have been not even in chemistry anymore. But it’s like, oh, 30 minutes, so easy to do no big deal. You know.

Al McBride 35:42
I mean, there was another story of a guy who just like the other person across the table is meant to bring his mother in law to the airport. But then he had this conflicting meeting. And the guy said, I’m actually going to the airport. Where’s the airport now? You knows I thank you so much. You know, it’s that kind of thing. It’s like a gesture that’s unnecessary, but so appreciated.

Michael F Schein 36:08
I had an experience like that totally by accident. So I was at a conference. And there was this young guy. They’re quite a bit younger than me. And he was obviously early on in his career. And we talked a lot, and we’re very quirky guy, but cool. And I was driving from Rhode Island to Beacon, New York, which is a long drive. And he lived in the city. And he said, he was very forthright. It was kind of interesting. He was like, Can you drive me there? I don’t know.

I came in a different way. And I’m like, Oh, I’m like, I get and we had just met. And I was kind of like, I guess, I was like, I’m not going to drive to the city, because that’ll take me two hours out of my way. But I’ll take the train from beacon. I said, Okay, no, why not? Now, some people would have not done that, because who’s this guy. But we ended up the trip went really quickly, because we talked the whole time. And he was in a really interesting guy. And then when we got there, he said, you know, my dad is a consultant, you know, I’m doing some work for him, blah, blah, blah, let me introduce you to him. And he became a client for like, two years, his dad,

Al McBride 37:17
yeah, go see, you never know who people know, or how they can help. But it

Michael F Schein 37:22
would have been really easy. I really wanted to say, You know what, I’m tired. It’s at the end of the thing. I had an audio book I wanted to listen to, you know, I don’t really feel like talking to this stranger for five hours that I’ve met two hours ago. But I did it. And it turned out he was a super interesting guy and made the trip, though. Quick. So sometimes you gotta you gotta say, Yes, you know,

Al McBride 37:44
absolutely let in, it’s a great point, it’s one of the things I get all my clients to do is one of the first things is listing what is cheap or free for you to give that’s of high perceived value to the other side, and vice versa. And that’s what needs to be added to take it out of a transactional deal where you are, because otherwise, you’re just commoditized. And this is kind of what we’re talking about in a different way is that you’re you’re talking about these things going back and forth as a commodity, or as you say, as a transaction, whereas you’re going to move them in from the economic enter the social, correct, because we’re social creatures went up, connects with people properly, rather than just trying to it’s the Immanuel Kant thing of, you know, in theory known as a means. The everyone has a means to their, to their own and not to your end is actually interested in talking about, and it’s a very good fundamental principle. But tell us a little bit more than about your experiments. So has is it finished? Is it ongoing? Is it evolving what

Michael F Schein 38:51
it’s absolutely on? It’s absolutely ongoing. I mean, it’s not that old, frankly, you know, I mean, it’s, um, I have sort of as a ulterior motive other than just trying to promote my own business and have help other people. The ulterior motive is at a certain point, I’m gonna have to write book number two, I’m gonna want to write book number two. And, you know, there’s a guy named, and I don’t know if I’m going to do this approach or not, so if I do you heard it here first, but there’s a guy who has become a friend of mine named AJ Jacobs. Weirdly enough, I met him at a yes. So I met him at a breakfast event. And tips and yeah, we

Al McBride 39:32
use biblically and Heaton back loaded these really good experiments. Yeah.

Michael F Schein 39:36
So this this guy who we got invited to this random breakfast event by a mutual friend and Ben Michaelis, and I don’t know we both were hanging out afterward, for some odd reason waiting for something when it was raining, that’s what it was. And we just had a lot in common, hit it off, whatever. So we’ve kept in touch. And what I love about his books is you Yeah, he does the thing, and then writes about it right. So a lot of people, including me, do a bunch of research. And you know, you distinguish yourself by your writing voice or your depth of knowledge or the way you synthesize things.

But it’s based on third party or even primary sources, what AJ does, which is crazy, actually, he’s kind of a madman in the way, he does the thing. So like, he wanted to know what it would really be like to live like the Bible. So he did every biblical law for a full year. So he grew his beard really long he didn’t like were mixed fibers like all this crazy stuff. And up here, this is a guy with very happily married man with kids who lives in a really cool apartment in New York. And he was walking around with robes and lay, you know, without mixed fibers and in a beard.

And then he writes not just about the thing, but about the experience of doing it. So I was thinking, I could write a book about the secret society principle. But it might be neat to actually like, do the thing. And I’d use pseudonyms, but actually document how I created a secret society and how it evolved. And what it did for me like the process, like like, almost like a memoir, like Confessions of a Freemason kind of thing. But it’s in its early stages, that idea

Al McBride 41:17
to create an idea. So great idea, and

Michael F Schein 41:21
engage, I don’t think you’ll mind if I rip him off and think sorry.

Al McBride 41:25
But you were talking about a more immediate application as well, that some of your some of the clients you really enjoy working with lately have been startups who, as you said, just before we started cool, that they were they’re using all these hype terms, and you’re the hive guy, so it’s a could be a good fit. So,

Michael F Schein 41:47
yeah, so this is really interesting. So the book, you know, the hype handbook came out in 2020. And it was an idea I have had for a really long time. And in the typical way of getting a book published, it’s hard to get a book published. And finally did you know, and I’ve always kind of thought of myself as a writer first, because that’s what I wanted to do as a kid. And I was a copywriter, but I, I guess found a certain talent for marketing and business. So even though I used these hype, strategies, no one really understood that, you know, like, when I would say, I use this hype thing that that’d be like, Isn’t hype bad. So I would frame what I did as a marketing agency.

I mean, I had a pretty traditional agency model, you know, we did the marketing for you, and use the hype, strategies to execute and whatever. And that was good. I mean, I made a nice living, it was a nice business, you know, but when the book can I say was because we’ve really changed as a result of the book. Oh, and I should say, there was one problem with the agency model, and everybody experiences this. And it’s that, when you this whole idea of overpriced or under promise over deliver is another myth that I think is nonsense, because humans are very adaptable. So we would get into this thing where we would do all this great work at our own expense, you know, we had overhead and we would execute these campaigns for clients, and they would be happy for about three weeks, you know, and then that would become the new norm.

So then it was, what else are you doing for me. And so then, if we over promised by answering all their calls, and running like chickens without a head, that was no longer an extra little flavoring we throw on top, that was the, the new thing. So we had to have a lot of conversations about scope, and this and that, and it’s the typical agency thing. And that’s not on our clients that’s on the agency model. And that’s on Done For You models. That’s human nature. So when the book came out, it’s fortunately gotten some good attention. And it made the idea of height as a potentially positive thing. In certain quarters. It’s made it understood and popular. And so what I realized was, I could now go out and help people hype themselves up in a way that would really bake it into their DNA. So what we started to do is there’s 12 type strategies. And we go through with our clients strategy, by strategy by strategy. So we start with, let’s say, we’re on strategy to create a secret society, using exercises and tools that we devised.

We educate them about it, we come up with the idea for an experiment and structure it for them and give them tools that we have to run the experiment, but they have to put one foot in front of the other to go out into the world and do it. We assess the results together and iterate, iterate, iterate until it’s running wonderfully, and then we show them ways to blow it up. And what’s been really amazing is they’re getting better results. I mean, we were a good marketing agency. But just by having skin in the game, just by not being able to say, here’s, I hired my marketing agency magic wand, they’ll do it for me. It just gets baked into their DNA.

So you’ve all these people are just there. I mean, I have one client who took our idea and went out and became a viral Tiktok person, you know, and added all kinds of stuff to it. So the other thing on top of that, that’s been wonderful is that I found a new market in funded tech startups. So a lot of people call themselves tech startups. But what they really are, are entrepreneurs, you know, they they had success somewhere else, they’re funding their own business, you know, or they’re tapping into their savings. And that’s a beautiful thing. But a lot of those businesses aren’t going to succeed, some will, right? What I’m talking about is these companies that have such a strong business plan, and in such a strong product, that they raise millions of dollars, right off the bat and build the team and build a structure. And what I didn’t understand, because I got the word hype from hip hop, is that in the startup world, everyone is talking about hype, the conversation now is yeah, if you have a good product, you might have a $5 million valuation, if you have nothing but hype, you’re Elizabeth Holmes.

But if you have hype and a good product, it’s a unicorn 100 million, $500 million valuation and everyone, there’s even a height metric, everyone’s talking about height, and what these tech startups are doing, and the VCs, they’re going out, and they don’t know how to crack the hype code. So they’re doing things like hiring branding companies, and they come out with a brand name book. And not to disparage that you need a good logo, you need good colors, you need that.

But that doesn’t teach you the mass psychology to hype things up. So what we’ve started to do is, we have these limited engagements with funded tech startups where we walked the we take them through the process, do experiment until we know that it’s working, and come up with a formula specifically designed for them based on the experimentation and the hype strategies that hypes them up. And then we document it and help them spread it through their organization. And people are killing it. I mean, we have this one client pop up, that we did that with them, we did that process, we documented all this stuff, they just did a conference based on their our ideas, actually, that proceeds to Ukraine that blew their brand, you know, out of the water, got them this massive visibility. So it’s been fun. I mean, it’s really it’s, I kind of feel like I was designed to do this thing at this point. Awesome stuff.

Al McBride 47:38
Awesome. So it makes perfect sense that, as you said, when you give people the tools and a bit of training or coaching, wherever you want to call it, they’re going to be pretty innovative. But you’ve also happened to be with a pretty innovative group for free in their sector in the first place, who were willing to take risks who are willing to, to put themselves out there and put a lot of things on the line. So sounds like a great fit. But I’d imagine as you said, when it’s baked into them, and part of their nearly a part of their culture for what you’re that’s the idea, say it’s 100% the idea, it’s going in all sorts of directions internally and externally. So that’s, that’s fantastic. Yeah,

Michael F Schein 48:19
it’s kind of like how people are trying to build a brand. And the idea isn’t just to come up with a logo, it’s to have a style guide, this is how you talk about the business. That’s what we’re doing for. It’s all the stuff behind the branding, right? And that’s what we’re doing for, okay, whenever you one of your team members walks out into the world, how are they speaking about your product in a way that draws lines in the sand so that people get agitated in a positive way and want to spread the word about you? Right? So the idea is, how do you turn every emissary of your business into how do you get them to hype you up? Ethically, all the time, and these are guidelines for doing that

Al McBride 49:04
is establishing that same field of differentiation where this we’re not that you will like this, if you like this kind of thing. If you don’t, we’re not for you, except being proudly that you know, exactly.

Michael F Schein 49:16
And that’s just one of the hydrogens. I mean, we’re doing it for all of them. I mean, you know, the if you’re out networking on behalf of your company, don’t network, think like a secret society, you know, angle Yeah,

Al McBride 49:32
absolutely. It’s, it is that side of appreciation. Appreciation is the field that I think I mean, I remember I did networking for years when I was an art dealer in a previous life. And I don’t think I ever saw one painting through it directly. But I made phenomenal friends who then through other means I got a load of different work even, like, years and years later. You know, like I interned with doing film production online video productions, this kind of stuff. I was all from those people.

And it was because instead of just doing the networking thing, I remember because I was getting, was it bored or annoyed? I can’t remember. But I try and remember what the person said. And then instead of, you know, you’re going to swap when the bell goes or some horrific crap, I’d actually, I’d actually, for a game, I’d say, okay, pay attention, see, Is this accurate, right. And I explained to the next person what this person had just told me, and half that I didn’t see if I could do better than they did. And half the time they go, that was better than what I said, Write that down.

Michael F Schein 50:41
Yeah, you’ve helped you help them refine their ideas, which is kind of like that idea you gave you, you probably do that very naturally. And you gave them something that was easy for you to do that they struggle with. Well, this

Al McBride 50:51
was the thing I was trying to think what’s interesting about this to me, and maybe how would I throw it at another person like, oh, such and such as this? And I think it’s really cool the way to this and it sounds like it’s interesting way. And that? I think, Oh, that’s great. Jesus, I didn’t think of that. Quick. I love that. That’s very cool. Like I was having fun. Yeah. You know,

Michael F Schein 51:12
people forget the fun element. I mean, I draw this line in the sand like we’re at work now. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, is that the person you want to be around? Exactly. I’m not saying be a clown. I mean, it’s everything in life is about balance and about nuance. But

Al McBride 51:32
yeah, yeah. I mean, it poses a Paul Newman, you know, always take your work seriously. Never take yourself seriously. Meeting point of those. You know, yeah. You want to turn up ready and knowing your stuff and all that. But life’s too short, you know.

Michael F Schein 51:48
And it’s just I mean, I don’t think, you know, sometimes, this is what I find. And we could talk all day about this, and in general, but sometimes people read the fun thing wrong. They do like fake fun. So like, I remember, I worked at this company once that was the most soulless place in the world. I mean, everything was gray. It was a terrible industry.

Al McBride 52:08
And then one time or Friday, tough place. It

Michael F Schein 52:11
was like that. But we went on this retreat, and the chief operating officer was like, I got a surprise for you guys. This is great. We have to go downstairs and like do that like like, like the run through cones and do like trust falls, you know, they brought in this like, third party thing where we had to like solve these puzzles as groups and walk through consent. I’m like, I kind of want to poison myself right now. Because I’m supposed to pretend that this is more enjoyable than the semi unenjoyable thing we were doing drinking with people that I don’t really know that well, but at least it was like drinking. And this is like I have to because there were like magic markers and cones involved. It’s capital F fun. And I have to smile. I’m not talking about that. I’m not talking about forced fun.

Al McBride 52:57
Yeah. Right, integrate one

Michael F Schein 53:00
subtle difference. And we could talk for hours about the difference. But there is a difference. Yeah,

Al McBride 53:05
there is a difference. There is a difference. But Brilliant stuff. Mike. I’d love to hear how things develop. Well, thanks with with both the book with the new startup sector. And indeed with your secret society. Magically we write a handbook the handbook to creating your own secret. Yeah,

Michael F Schein 53:29
I you know, we gotta see, but like, I think that yeah, all that stuff would be really useful. I mean, that’s, I want to see where this new project takes me. That’s how I started the hype stuff. I just did little experiments and saw where it took me.

Al McBride 53:43
I think there’s a few more very, very interesting, hopefully hilarious experiments. As you said, in the gentle parallel of maybe AJ Jacobs to some degree. Yeah, exactly. Maybe how to start your own cult, or is that too dark too far?

Michael F Schein 54:02
You know, it’s funny that you say that because I would use these dark examples in the book and my, my editor who is an amazing, amazing editor, and I say that with tongue completely removed from cheek, you know, amazing editor in every way. had me take one or two of those stories out. And at the time, I was like, what, they’re so good. And I realized it would have been a terrible idea. I mean, there was one about how one of the early Nazis learned SIG Heil, from Harvard football chants, and I just thought, fascinating. Yeah, I could tell you that story. And it was a great story. But you can’t really have Nazis inspiring people, you know, in a business book. I was like, Yeah, you have a point.

Al McBride 54:42
Yeah, maybe step too far. But it

Michael F Schein 54:45
was a cool yeah, the guy, one of the earliest members of the Nazi Party who knew Hitler very well, when he was an exchange student in at Harvard in the 20s. And he played Oregon at Harvard football games. No one knew what American football was in Germany and they would yell fight Over fight Harvard Fight, fight fight in these state Ivy League students will get worked up into a frenzy, you know. And so when he got radicalized and join the Nazi Party and Hitler was doing really well with his talks, well, quote, unquote, he said,

We need something to galvanizing because you know, when I was at Harvard, everyone would chant this thing. And they will get worked up into this hypnotize thing. So that’s where they came up with St. Heil. And Heil Hitler was directly from the Harvard football games, which shows you that the content doesn’t matter. Like you could be chanting Chicken, Chicken, Chicken. That’s what I mean by its hype is neither moral nor immoral. It’s just our brains work a certain way in groups. So you can use that to be a Nazi or use that to I don’t know, end apartheid, right? I mean,

Al McBride 55:46
yeah, absolutely. I mean, an awful lot of as the behavior change and have a change, research, a lot of those researchers are very expert and well read on psychology of cults. Because

Michael F Schein 56:01
that was where we went, That’s what I need to

Al McBride 56:04
hear. Because they’ve, they literally have made all these people change their behavior in a very severe way. It’s like, how could you do that with a bit more freewill and two really good behaviors, you know?

Michael F Schein 56:18
Yeah. And that was

Al McBride 56:19
kind of a starting point. The thing

Michael F Schein 56:21
to know about cults is, if you want to, you know, think I don’t want to be hypnotized, even for good behavior, is that for every call for every political movement, not every one succumbs meaning it has to speak to something that you’re going through right now it has to speak to avoid people who join a cult, it’s not that they’re bad people. It’s that there’s something they’re not getting from other elements in their life that the cult fills. So you want to do that benevolently with your product or your movement. You know, it’s Is there a way you can make people’s lives better, where there’s a void in their lives, and it’s not, you know, giving all your money to a cabbage head? Exactly. SaaS software or whatever.

Al McBride 57:07
You’re hitting right in there. And you’re in the Don Draper, the real Don Draper, before Don Draper was, you know, Eddie Bernays, which you mentioned in your book, as the amount of damage that

Michael F Schein 57:18
a terrible for? Yeah, but fascinating

Al McBride 57:21
story. For people who don’t know me was Freud’s nephew, nephew. Yeah. And he basically was the granddaddy of postmodern PR. He invented the term Yeah, yeah. And I’m bringing in a motion under Freudian principles into American advertising. Previously, there was like, these shoes, buy the shoes, because they’ll last longer than every other shoe. And it was all features, you know, whereas he brought in this the missing desire.

Michael F Schein 57:49
Yeah, there we go. People like that. And there was him. There was a guy named Eugene Schwartz, who wasn’t such an evil person. I mean, Edward Bernays did everyday products to it was just, he was more just that he was completely amoral. I mean, he would overthrow a government if they paid him or he would sell porn. I mean, he didn’t care.

Al McBride 58:10
Yeah, I’m sure as I was, you know, getting women to smoke when it was Yeah, exactly. It wasn’t cool before freedom. tortious freedom. Sorry.

Michael F Schein 58:19
Yeah. Because he would also just sound amazing. Or, you know, he would sell normal stuff, too. I mean, it just depended who was paying him.

Al McBride 58:26
Yeah. Yeah, I remember one cake mix company.

Michael F Schein 58:31
Oh, that’s a great story.

Al McBride 58:32
Those are just about an egg. Yeah. How Freudian is it? Yeah, they want a one bit of input. And then they could say,

Michael F Schein 58:41
I guess I guess they were they figured out there. Yeah. Is that um, so they came out with bake mix, you know, and really, all you had to do is add water and women weren’t buying it. And what they realized was, even though they thought what they wanted was convenience. 50s, women housewives, got their self worth out of cooking for their families, because what else did they have? I mean, they were working at these world war two jobs, and they were supposed to put their entire identity.

So if now the thing they were doing nourishing their family was just add water, you know? Well, meaning so they gave them meaning by making it feel more like cooking. They had them put an egg in it, right? So it’s just funny that these geniuses really dig into like, what are the kind of hidden motivators or voids or emotions that people aren’t even admitting to themselves? And that’s tough to do, and it can be really sinister, but it can also, I think, sometimes the good guys don’t feel that they should do that, that the facts should speak for themselves. And as a result, they lose and I don’t want to get into the specifics of the politics, but there’s one side right now in the United States that’s really really good at that and one side that’s really bad at it. And it causes an uneven playing field

Al McBride 1:00:05
in China. So on that note, we better say farewell for now.

Al McBride 0:03
All right, Mike. So if people listen to this podcast would like to learn more about you? Where can they do this?

Michael F Schein 0:12
Well, I guess there’s really two ways depending on what you want to learn. So, if you know all my secrets are given away and in the book we were talking about, so if you go to Amazon or any online place, and type in the hype handbook, check it out, you know, and read it. And I think you’ll learn a lot you might be able to do a lot of this stuff on your own and if after reading that you want to reach me, you know the name of the companies in the in the book. And if you want to, you know, reach me before that, my company’s called micro fame media, so that’s MICR OFAN e.media.com. And you could either drop me a line or call me to talk about doing business or you could drop me a line and call me and I’m always happy to talk to interesting people and just trade ideas. Brilliant stuff already. Thanks again, Mike. Thanks.

Michael F Schein 1:00:11
Well, hey, thanks again. Now this was an absolute pleasure.

Al McBride 1:00:14
Thanks so much for being on the show once again. Brilliant stuff, Mike. Thanks

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Connect with Michael F Schein

Ready for more:

If you’re interested in more, visit almcbride.com/minicourse for a free email minicourse on how to gain the psychological edge in your negotiations and critical conversations along with a helpful negotiation prep cheat sheet.

You might also like: